Commonwealth War Graves Commission Grave ( no.399 as listed in Monumental Inscriptions Bellie Churchyard and New Cemetery by Moray Burial Ground Research Group. )

Pte Walter Corser no.2204511 was born in Fochabers on 20 January 1884 and eventually trained as a carpenter. He enlisted at Victoria, British Columbia, in the 7th Battalion Canadian Infantry (British Columbia Regiment) in October 1917. He served in France, and died of wounds in the Canadian Military Hospital, Devonport on 3rd October, 1918. He was the son of Alexander and Isabella Corser of Huntly Lane, Fochabers.

He lies beside his family grave no. 400 on which stone his name is also inscribed and telling of his death at, Devonport. There may not be many similar cases of personnel from Empire services buried beside family members. ( The family stone also records that his brother Alexander was lost on board H.M.S. Vanguard on 9th July, 1917. H.M.S. Vanguard blew up while anchored at Scapa Floe, just five weeks or so after taking part in the Battle of Jutland. Alexander was born in Keith on 28th January, 1875. He joined the navy at Devonport on 4th July, 1891, becoming a Chief Petty Officer. He served in China, the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea and Home Waters and was awarded the China Medal and Somaliland Medal with bar.

The Corser family home was in Huntly Lane (now eastern section of Maxwell Street), Fochabers. Their mother predeceased them; their father died four years after the end of the war.

The Northern Scot of 12 October 1918 records :
“Private Walter Corser, Canadians, who was recently reported wounded, succumbed to his wounds last week in hospital in Devonport. He was 34 years of age, and served his apprenticeship with Mr. Glass, Cartwright, Fochabers, thereafter proceeding to Canada. He was a son of Mr. Alexander Corser. Gordon Castle, and his brother, C.P.O. Alexander Corser went down with the Vanguard a year ago. Private Corser’s body was conveyed north, and the funeral took place in Bellie Churchyard on Wednesday. His father, a brother, and a cousin in uniform were the chief mourners, while other two soldiers were present. At the grave Rev. Mr. Venters, parish minister, conducted a short service.”

The Morayshire Roll of Honour records :
CORSER, Walter. No. 2204511, Pte., British Columbia Canadians ; born at Fochabers, Parish of Bellie, 20th Jan., 1884 ; joined at San Francisco, California, U.S.A., Oct., 1917 ; served in France ; died of wounds in the Canadian Military Hospital, Devonport, Oct., 3rd, 1918. Son of Alexander Corser, Huntly Lane, Fochabers, and Isabella Clark or Corser (deceased). Occupation, carpenter.

The Scottish War Memorials Project records :-
Corser Walter Pte 2204511 7th Canadian Inf (British Columbia Regt) b Fochabers 29-1-1884 e Victoria BC Age 34 03-Oct-18. Son of Alexander and Isabella Clark Corser, Huntly Lane, Fochabers, Scotland. Occ Carpenter. NoK Alex Corser, Main St., Fochabers. Morayshire Roll of Honour: page 68. Mil. Service. Yes. Bellie Burial Ground UK. His name appears on the Fochabers War Memorial under Colonial Regiments.


Commonwealth Graves Commission Grave (no.557 as listed in Monumental Inscriptions Bellie Churchyard and New Cemetery )wwgraves

Serjeant Alexander Smith  No. 265125  of  the  Seaforth  Highlanders  was  born in Bellie  Parish  and  resided  in  Garmouth. It  is  recorded  in Forces War Records that  he  Died  of  Wounds  at  Home (but see two items below).  He  was  the  husband  of  Isabella  Smith  of  Hope Street,  Portgordon ;  his  parents  lived in  Spey Bay.     ( Died Home  means in  the  UK. )

The Northern Scot of 4th August, 1917  records :-

“Sergeant Alex. Smith, Spey Bay. The sad news has been received in Spey Bay that Sergeant Alex. Smith, Seaforth Highlanders has died in hospital through blood poisoning. Sergeant Smith, who was the eldest son of Mrs. Alex. Smith, Tugnet, Spey Bay, was wounded on April 9th, and so severely was he injured that one of his legs had to be amputated.  After being removed to hospital in Leicester he succumbed, and the deepest sympathy is extended to his widow and three children. Before enlisting, Sergeant Smith was employed at the Duke of Richmond and Gordon’s fishery station at Portgordon.”

The Morayshire Roll of Honour records :-

SMITH, Alexander. No. 265125, Sgt. 1/6th Seaforths ; born at Tugnet, 29th Nov., 1885 ; joined in  Morayshire, 4th August, 1914 ; served in France ;  wounded, 9th April, 1917,  and died of wounds in  London, 23rd July, 1917. Son of Alexander and Isabella M. Smith, Tugnet, Spey Bay.  Occupation, salmon fisher.

The Scottish War Memorials Project  records :-

Smith Alexander Sjt 265125  6th Seaforth Highlanders  Died Home 23-Jul-17      Son of Mr and Mrs Smith, Spey Bay, Morayshire ; Husband of Isabella Smith, 7 Hope St., Port Gordon.  Bellie Burial Ground U.K.

His name  appears  on  the  Fochabers War  memorial.


Williamson 537

WILLIAMSON Commonwealth Graves Commission Grave   (no.  537  in  Monumental Inscriptions Bellie Churchyard and New Cemetery)

Private Robert Williamson   No. 12207 of  the  Gordon Highlanders  was  born  at  Auchenreath  in  1896.

The Morayshire Roll of Honour records :-

WILLIAMSON, Robert. No. 12207, Pte. 3 /6th Gordon Highlanders ; born at Auchenreath,  28th July, 1896 ; joined at Keith, 21st May, 1915 ; died on service, 10th Nov., 1915.  Son of George Williamson, Auchenreath, and Annie Taylor or Williamson. Occupation, farm servant.

His name is  inscribed  on  the  War Memorial  at  Alves

The Scottish War  Memorial Project  has  the  above  images  and  the  following  entry :-

Robert Williamson Pte 12207 6th Gordon Highlanders born Auchinreathbellie (sic)  28/07/1896  enlisted Keith Age 19 Died Home  10-Nov-15  Son of George & Annie Taylor Williamson, Auchenreath.  Memorial : Inchstellie.  Morayshire Roll of Honour : Page 544 : Occ Farm Servant.  Bellie Burial Ground, Moray, U.K.

Forces War  Records  states  that  he  Died  at  Home,  birth  town  Auchinreathbellie, Banffshire,  (sic)  and  resided  in  Keith.

( Died Home  means in  the  UK. See below.  One  can  assume  that  he  may  have  been  working  on  the  farm  at  Inchstellie  near  Alves  when  he  enlisted,  and  therefore  was  regarded  as  a  resident  of the  parish. His  name  does  not  appear  on  the  Fochabers  War  Memorial.)

Banffshire Advertiser  of 18th November, 1915  in  DEATHS  column  has :-

WILLIAMSON  –  At the Army  Hospital,  Dundee on the 10th inst,  Private  Robert  Williamson, 6th Gordon Highlanders,  sixth son of George Williamson Auchenreath aged 19 years.


Banffshire Advertiser   of 24th February, 1916  has :-


(Picture of Pte. J. Williamson) (Picture of Pte. R. Williamson)

Above we reproduce photos of two brothers belonging to the district, who played their part in the great war and have given their lives for the country at  a  very  early age. They were sons of Mr. George Williamson, Auchenwreath (sic) , Portgordon, and were  in  the  gallant  Gordons.

Pte. John Williamson was the fifth son. Before the war he was a policeman in Paisley,  but he  came  to  Aberdeen  and  enlisted  in  the  first  Gordons  in  May 1915.  He proceeded to France in  the  month  of July, and  on  20th December  he  was  killed  in  action,  being  shot through the left lung.  The  fallen  warrior  was  only  20 years  of  age.

Pte. Robert Williamson, who  was the  sixth  son,  was  a  postman in  the  Enzie  district  before  enlisting  in  the 3/6 Gordons  in  May  last.   He  was  stationed  at  Barry  Camp  for  some  time,  where  he  took  ill  and  died  in  Dundee  War  Hospital  on  the  10th November, 1915.   Although  he  had  not  had  an  opportunity  of  facing  the  Huns,  he  died  in  the  country’s  service,  and  the  death  of  a  young  soldier  at  19  years  is  greatly  regretted.

Peter S. Dawson, February, 2014